New York Distilling Company is making waves in a world of gin.
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Craft distilleries are still scarce in NYC, but in what many are calling a second golden age of cocktail culture, there has been a rediscovery of vintage-y spirits. And the spirit of the moment is gin. To seize that moment, Allen Katz, Bob Potter, and Tom Potter (also co-founder of Brooklyn Brewery) opened New York Distilling Company, a gin distillery connected to the Shanty, a bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. At the Shanty they can easily introduce their products to the public and, through a window into the distillery, give folks a peek at the gin-making process.
“We had to ask ourselves what it was that we could effectively add to the conversation,” says Katz. “How could we set out to be purposefully different in a world of gin?” They succeeded at that with their first offering, Perry’s Tot Navy Strength Gin, which is to date the only navy-strength gin made in the country—and, in fact, the only one available in the country.
Navy-strength gin was originally created by members of the British Navy in the 18th century, when officers were paid with alcohol. It is 114-proof, which makes it the highest-proof gin in the world. The number 114 also comes with a great backstory: The Brits discovered that if you accidentally spilled gin of that proof on gunpowder, you could still fire your weapon. The name Perry’s Tot refers to a local U.S. Navy hero.
“It added to the pleasure of the process to reintroduce something historic that people today haven’t tried before,” says Katz. And with 10 botanicals, ranging from classic juniper berry to wildflower honey from upstate New York, Perry’s Tot is a delightful addition to any gin-and-tonic or gimlet.
“Now, if you’re going to do two gins at the same time, they have to be drastically different,” says Katz. New York Distilling’s second offering comprises eight botanicals and has a more fruit-forward palette, attributed to elderberries and dried hibiscus petals. It’s called Dorothy Parker American Gin, in honor of the local poet and playwright. “There are so many products in the spirits industry named after men. We thought, Wouldn’t it be fun to name one after a woman?” says Katz.
In addition to the Shanty, you can find the new gins in better liquor stores and at some of the city’s top cocktail bars, including Death + Company, PDT, and Monkey Bar (where we recommend ordering a Tropic of Capricorn—you won’t be disappointed).
New York Distilling Company: 79 Richardson Street, Brooklyn, 718.412.0874. The distillery is open for public tours on weekdays from 5 to 7 p.m.